Continuing litany of errors raises question about the "Quality Culture" in the SEC
For the second year in a row the Leaving and Junior Certificate examinations have been plagued by avoidable failures in quality management. These failures, and the responses thus far from the State Exams Commission, raises questions about the "culture of quality" in the SEC. Castlebridge Associates echoes the comments of the Irish Second-Level Students Union, who have described carelessness by those who set the exams as unacceptable and easily avoided.
"If the SEC was developing software or building cars the level of avoidable bugs and defects they seem to encounter on a regular basis would be having a serious impact on their bottom line", says Daragh O Brien, CEO of Castlebridge Associates.
So far this year we have witnessed:
- 217 students in 16 centres being supplied with Leaving Certificate exam papers that had not been correctly printed and were missing questions, resulting in confusion about how to get the missing questions to the schools (with broken fax machines and over-active Spam filters frustrating many attempts to get the questions through) and inconsistencies in how additional time was allocated to students to allow them to finish their exams.
- 24000 students sitting the Junior Certificate (or some 42% of all students) found themselves unable to complete a question on their exam due to the figures provided for calculations being incorrect.
- National media have received reports of extensive errata sheets being produced in exams to provide corrections to errors in papers.
All of these are, ultimately, problems with the quality of information which give rise to difficulties for the "knowledge workers" of the future at a time of heightened stress and tension.
- Increased pressure on students as a result of exam strategy for tackling questions being overturned by the complete exam paper
- Increased costs of appeals and rechecks as students may feel aggrieved at marks they might receive if they were on the receiving end of the errors
- Lower levels of trust in the validity of grades as cynics might argue that a student only got their grade because "bonus marks" were awarded to compensate for avoidable problems with the exam paper.
- The SEC are quoted on national radio as saying that error rates are the same as in previous years.
- Examination of the completeness, consistency, and accuracy of questions to ensure they can actually be answered.
- Random sample checks on exam paper print runs to ensure that the complete, consistent and "answer-capable" questions are actually printed in the right order
#444444;"> About Castlebridge Associates
Castlebridge Associates is one of Ireland's leading specialist Information Management consultancies providing a range of services in the areas of Data Protection, Information Strategy, Information Quality, and Data Governance.
Castlebridge Associates' founder Daragh O Brien is a noted international expert in these fields with a number of articles and publications to his name.
About Daragh O Brien
Prior to founding Castlebridge Associates, Daragh O Brien lead a Compliance team in a leading Irish telecommunications firm. Prior to that he held strategic and operational responsibility for Single View of Customer strategy and execution. In each role he was a Champion and evangalist for the value high quality information through well defined and controlled processes.
He is a Fellow of the Irish Computer Society, a Founder member of the International Association for Information & Data Quality and a tutor on the Irish Computer Society's Data Protection Certificate. He co-founded and leads the ICS Information Quality Network.
He has been a keynote speaker, Chairman, and Panel participant at Information Quality and Data Governance conferences in Ireland, UK, Europe, North America, and Australia